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Fix it Friday… Leaky toilet

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For the past month or so, the toilet in the master bathroom has been ‘running’ almost constantly.  It started off quietly with only a little bit of water leaking into the bowl but over time it had become a pretty consistent stream.  The constant bubbling noise was getting on my nerves but knowing how much water we were wasting was even worse.

The last several weeks I adjusted everything that could be adjusted, over and over and in any combination that was possible.  Nothing seemed to help, last week while I was again trying to figure out what was going on I noticed bubbles coming up from the bottom of the water inlet valve.  I looked around online for some information on how to fix a possible leak in the water inlet valve and found this tutorial from Let’s Fix It with Dan Jiles 

I went to Home Depot today and bought a new Fluidmaster Universal Fill Valve for less than $8.  I got some additional tips from Al at the HD near Gramma’s house.  Once I got home, I followed the directions from the tutorial and had everything fixed in less than 20 minutes.  It would have been less than 10 minutes but the nut on the old fill valve was being difficult.  Sully had to come in to hold the top of the valve so I could muscle the nut in the tight space between the toilet and the sink cabinet.

It’s all fixed, no more bubbling sounds and more importantly, no more water being wasted.  Yay!!!

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Shared Worlds…

Every writer needs a little encouragement along the way.  A helpful word of advice from people who’ve been there can be especially helpful.  The very groovy people at Shared Worlds have asked some of fiction’s writers, editors and artists write down some words of wisdom on their hands and take a picture.

Hand in Hand…

 

Neil Gaiman

GaimanNeil

I love this.  Neil Gaiman is one of my favorite people.  I’ve only read a few of his books but I’ve been reading his blog and following him on Twitter for a while.  I actually got to meet him in June while he was on his book tour for ‘Ocean at the End of the Lane’.  He spoke for about an hour and a half before the book signing and as always, he was funny and smart , and really quite amazing.

I love his hand-written advice.  It really does play on what I truly need to do.  I need to write, finish what I am writing and keep writing.

 

Here are some of my other favorites…

 

Jody Lynn Nye

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Patrick Rothfuss

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Karin Lowachee

LowacheeKarin

 

 

Shared Worlds is a creative writing experience offered to high school students by Wofford College in South Carolina.  You can see the rest of the Hand in Hand advice here.

 

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Crafty bargains…

This past weekend while we were running errands I stopped at a few craft stores.  As I work on our Halloween costumes I am trying to rummage through my various stashes of fabric, trim and other supplies to get what I need.  I have some pretty good stashes to raid but there are still some things that I am going to have to buy to get everything completed.  As a rule, I don’t buy craft supplies unless it’s on sale, clearanced or I have a coupon.

I got a jump on things Thursday morning when Butterick patterns went on sale at patterns Joann’s, 5 for $5. I did a fair amount of research on the Butterick website beforehand so I went in armed with a list.  I was able to get almost everything on my list and then ended up getting four more on Saturday, including a pattern for a cute bag that I can make to use with my costume.  The prices for these patterns range from $19.95 to $15.50, so at $1 each it’s worth it to pick up anything that might be useful.   The patterns I brought home added up to $164.60 at the normal, non sale price.  It’s a pretty good deal.

Over the weekend, I found fabric for Sully’s pirate vest clearanced for $1 a yard.  It’s a very, very dark green, almost black.  It has a pin stripe effect that is really cool.  I think it will look great against the white of his pirate shirt.

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After buying the clearanced fabric we stopped at Michael’s.  On our way out I saw a clearance display of ribbon for $1 a spool.   Boo and I dug through the bin and found ribbon that we can use for our hats.  The deep red with the gold edges perfectly matches Boo’s skirt.  I had the gold trim from a previous project that Boo really liked.

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.I didn’t find anything that matched my colors exactly but I liked the sheer ribbon with the sparkly stripes, but it was too sheer to be used for the hat.  I found the silvery blue ribbon and decided to see how they looked layered.   I like the two ribbons together.  My pleating is completely haphazard there, I just wanted to see how it would look.  I will add some sort of thin decorative trim like with the red ribbon.  I seriously can’t believe that I got all of the ribbon for less than $10.

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I got my last crafty bargain at Joann’s, I used a 60% off coupon to buy 10 yards of white muslin for our pirate shirts.   It cost less than $12 for the ten yards.

All in all, I think I figured out that I saved over $50 on materials I was planning on buying for the costumes.  If you add in the patterns then I saved over $200 and I only spent about $32 including the patterns.  I love a good bargain.

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Double Kickstart…

My friend and author, Kate George has a project up on Kickstarter.  You can check it out Here.

It’s actually a dual project…

Double the Trouble – Two Books, Two Badass Broads

‘Staying Alive’ is the working title of her fourth installment of the Bree McGowan Mysteries.

‘Glimmer Girls’ is the introduction of Clara Delmare, a mermaid on a mission.

Bree 4

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The Bree McGowan Mysteries are fun, with likable characters and a good amount of humor. Each book has a twist, or two, that will keep you guessing until the very end.   You can find them at Amazon.

Kate George

Kate George lives in Vermont with her four kids and three rescue dogs.  Check out her blog, Mystery with a Side of Laughter, here.

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Getting ahead…

In my quest to get our Halloween costumes finished early this year, I have been doing lots and lots of online research.  One of the cool things I have found are some really pretty pirate hats decorated with ribbon, lace and other trims by different crafters.  There are a few tutorials but mostly people selling these gorgeous hats on Etsy.com.  I, of course, would like to decorate my own hat, so that it matches my outfit and so that I can add what I want to it.  I’ll write more on that later…

I ordered some hats off of eBay that can be decorated however we want.  They are plain, black, wide-brimmed wool hats that will work perfectly for the pirate costumes.  They are pretty floppy though, and that might it difficult to work on them.  I was toying with different ideas on what I could use to make the whole process easier.  After some thought I decided that the foam forms that you can get at beauty supply stores would probably be the easiest and most economical.  The forms generally run about $5.00 give or take a few quarters.

So after deciding that that the foam forms are what I needed I remembered that the closest beauty supply store had closed a few months ago.  I had already run errands earlier in the day and going out again in 108 degree weather held no appeal.  I took a few moments for a quick internal discussion and started looking at what I could do with what I had in the house.  We have one foam form that we use at Halloween to display one of many masks and/or hats.  I had seen some tutorials on making duct tape dress forms** the other day and I wondered if I could use the same technique to make my own hat display.

I didn’t think to take pictures until I was almost done with the second form so bear with me.

Materials –

  • foam head form
  • plastic bag
  • duct tape
  • cardboard
  • stuffing (plastic bags, newspaper, etc)

I started with the foam head and covered it with a plastic grocery bag.  I used strips of duct tape around the neck the part to hold the bag down and pull it tight around the form.  Next I started ripping strips of duct tape and wrapping the plastic covered foam form.  I split the strips vertically, some half the width and some in thirds.  I used the third widths across and along the nose and eyes to contour to the shape of the form.   The half widths I used starting along the jawline and moved up the side of the form.  I also put a long piece of tape down the center starting above the nose and continuing down the back of the neck.  I continued to lay down strips until the entire form was covered.  I did my first layer with a solid color duct tape and a decorative duct tape for the second layer.  The second layer is just like the first, I was just more careful to smooth down the duct tape.

When the form was covered with the second layer then I cut through the duct tape/plastic up the back and pulled the duct tape covering off of the form.  Use another few strips of the patterned duct tape to close up the back again.

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I used plastic grocery bags and crumpled up newspapers/ad mailers for stuffing, I was careful to fill in the contoured areas with the bags and filled the center with the crumpled paper.  I traced the bottom of the foam form on cardboard and cut it out.  After it was filled as much as it was going to be I put in the cardboard and covered it with the decorative duct tape.

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Here are the final results.  Now I have two hat forms that i can stick pins into and keep the hat in place while I work on decorating them.  Clearly, I could have bought two of the foam forms for about $10 and in about a third of the time that I spent making these.  For me, it was about being resourceful and using the materials that I had close at hand.   I am pretty pleased.

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**Duct tape dress forms – Google “how to make a duct tape dress form” for tutorials.   I liked this one, it has good info on the duct tape part, this one has more details on how to set up the form.

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Saturday Movie Night… Star Trek II

Star Trek 2

 

 

I love this movie.  Ricardo Montalban is magnificent as Khan, his arrogant, over the top performance is a perfect match to Shatner’s cocky, rule breaking James T. Kirk.  Also notable is the final battle scene, both the music and the cinematography are amazing.  I’ve seen this movie at least twenty times and I still get tense during that final battle.

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Skirting the issue…

I am a bit excited about our upcoming trip to Disneyland and to Mickey’s Halloween party.   I’ve decided to get a jump on the costumes, especially since last year was a ten day marathon of cutting, pinning and cutting.  I am hoping the preparation this year will be a bit more relaxed.

This weekend I spent some time looking at some different costume ideas.  We’d decided on the pirate theme earlier this year so at least I am that far along.  Of course, you’d be surprised at the different options for pirate costumes, especially given the many costumes featured in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies.  We have the added factor of getting on and off of rides at Disneyland to think about when choosing a costume.   I liked different elements of these costumes, which I found at Spirit Halloween.  I like the asymmetrical skirt on the first and last ones and the vest and hat options on the other costumes.  Overall, though my costume will need to be a little less sexy, I want to go more for cute and sassy.  It is for Disneyland after all.

Pirate W1    Pirate W3    Pirate W4           Pirate W5

Fabric Joanns

My plan is to make a skirt similar to the first picture but not as short in the front and not as long in the back.  This weekend I started looking through my patterns and fabric.  I remembered that I bought a remnant of some pretty brocade last Christmas.  I think it will make a really pretty vest.  I originally planned to make a loose fitting corset but even loose fitting boning might be a little painful for the rides.

So, with that I decided on a color scheme; white pirate shirt, the teal/blue brocade for the vest, black skirt and white underskirt.  I will probably make some black boot covers, more on that in a few weeks.

I started on the white underskirt, cutting out a modified circle skirt.   Then I started to cut the skirt into the shape that I wanted.  I’ll be adding about six inches of lace to the bottom edge and another tier above that.

Circle skirt

Trim          IMG_2173

skirt - Copy

I have a lot of lace that my grandmother gave me, it had already been cut into pieces about 10″ x 14″.  I sewed several pieces together along the t14″ side and then cut the whole chain in half to make a 7″ wide strip.  Then I had my two tiers of lace for the skirt.

Here’s the mostly finished underskirt…

Now I just have to work on the overskirt and attach it all to a waistband.

Stay tuned for more costume updates next week!